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Most people start the new year resolving to eat less or eat in a more healthful manner. My new year’s resolution for 2008, however, is to eat and drink more adventurously. While I won’t go to the lengths that British food critic Tom Parker Bowles did in his book “The Year of Eating Dangerously,” an amusing account of his global search for culinary extremes, I will try to seek out new flavors and food experiences. That means cooking more frequently (which will require some creativity, since I don’t have an oven); buying intimidating ingredients whose names I can’t pronounce; ordering wine from esoteric rather than familiar regions and traveling more frequently just to taste something unique to one part of the world.
It’s a lot to tackle but I’m quite looking forward to it, and like any big goal, it’s best achieved by taking baby steps. Here's how I plan to start the first quarter of 2008:
*I booked a ticket for a flight this month to Isla Bastimentos, off the coast of Bocas del Toro, Panama, where in addition to surfing and hiking through tropical jungles, I plan to roast cacao beans and taste pure chocolate straight from the source and stop at Mercado del Marisco, Panama City’s fish market, which is known for its super fresh (and super cheap) ceviche.
*I was inspired by travel editor Salma Abdelnour’s CSA experiment and plan to sign up for a CSA in my own neighborhood.
*I’m making a checklist of the best new ingredients in 2008 and plan to taste each and every one by year’s end. I started with the least intimidating, pistachios, and used them in a pesto last night.
*Each year, F&W’s Melissa Rubel and I plan a long weekend dedicated entirely to eating. This year we’re focusing our research on Charleston, S.C.
*It’s very easy to get caught up in checking out the newest restaurants in NYC, but I want to start trying older places, particularly interesting ethnic spots. Tonight I’m going to Rectangles, a long-established Israeli restaurant that Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov recommended in the course of a conversation about his plans to open a new Israeli restaurant, Zahav this spring.